If you’re a fan of whipped cream and you’re on a New Year’s resolution diet, then I suggest that you don’t read any further. It’s not that I don’t want you here, I really do. But once I introduce you to the whipped-cream-that-is-even-better-than-whipped cream that I filled these gluten free brandy snaps with, your diet will be over, and I just can’t handle that kind of responsibility.
For those who are willing to be cream corrupted, read on…
Brandy snaps were often one of our Christmas desserts until we started requiring gluten free sweets, and since gluten free ones aren’t available at the supermarket like the trusty old Ernest Adams ones, we haven’t had them in a fair few years. This year I decided to have a go making them with gluten free flour, and had I known just how easy they were to make, I’d have been making them every year!
If you haven’t had brandy snaps before, they are thin, crunchy, delicious little tubes made with golden syrup and lightly spiced with cinnamon and ginger. While the snaps are still warm they’re shaped into a tube, and when they’re cooled you fill them with whipped cream. I always assumed that there was brandy in brandy snaps but apparently often there is not, and you’re actually supposed to eat them with a glass of brandy. Plus I guess the name ginger snaps was already taken.
But lets talk about this whipped cream for a minute. If you didn’t think it was possible to have whipped cream that is even better than whipped cream, then I’m about to blow your mind.
The evilness of this cream was a bit of an accident really. See, my Mum makes this Tiramisu for Christmas lunch, but we couldn’t find the usual recipe in amongst the recipe jumble. After a quick Google search she found one that looked good. She usually makes two separate Tiramisus- a regular one and one with the sponge fingers dipped in a hot chocolate mixture instead of espresso for the non-coffee drinkers, and we weren’t sure if the recipe would make enough filling for two desserts. So what do you do when you’re not sure how much of something a recipe makes? You triple it, of course. Turns out doubling it would have been more than enough!
So there we were with a container of leftover Tiramisu filling in the fridge (and by left over, I mean there was still a whole lot left after my parents, my aunty and I were done spreading it on the leftover pieces of the gluten free sponge I’d made… *cough*, quality control, *cough*)
On Christmas Day, when I was whipping cream to fill the brandy snaps, I spotted the container of Tiramisu filling in the fridge, and figured why not add a bit of that good stuff to the cream? Adding more cream + egg yolks + mascarpone cheese would make a pretty nice whipped cream, right? I cannot even believe how right that was. You might think that those ingredients would make the cream too rich, but in fact it is the total opposite, they make a whipped cream that is silkier and smoother and somehow even lighter. Add in a healthy dose of vanilla paste, and you have the ultimate whipped cream.
So last week I came up with a recipe using the egg yolks and mascarpone, added to lots of softly whipped cream, and it really does make the perfect filling for these lacy little tubes.
The snaps can be a little fiddly to make, but once you’ve worked out how long they take to cook in your oven and after you’ve rolled a few, then you can churn through a batch pretty quickly. Because they need to be shaped while they’re still warm, you can only bake one tray (four snaps) at a time, but if you place a new tray in as you take the previous one out then you get a little production line going and it doesn’t take too long. On Christmas my Mum and I made them together, so we each rolled two on each tray, and never had any problems with the snaps cooling too quickly. So if you can, grab a friend! Nothing like a bit of team effort in the kitchen.
(They’re also pretty useful for snapping you rolling some snaps.)
I used non-stick cannoli tubes to shape my brandy snaps, but if you don’t have tubes then you can use the thick handle of a wooden spoon. Ideally you need four of whatever you’re going to shape them around, if not then you may need to warm the snaps back up if they cool down and harden before you’ve rolled them. And of course if you don’t want tubes, you could shape the snaps into baskets over an upturned muffin tray or some small bowls. Or leave them flat and layer them up with cream and fruit.
Once the snaps are cooled you can pipe in your whipped cream.
The brandy snaps are best eaten soon after they’re filled, so they don’t get too soft and chewy. But trust me, eating them quickly is no trouble whatsoever…
Since the snaps need to be shaped while warm, only bake one tray at a time. To keep things moving, as you remove one tray from the oven place the next tray in(and re-set the oven timer). This way you can crank out one tray every six or so minutes.
I used brown rice flour and tapioca flour, but you could try these using your favourite gluten free flour blend.
If you don't need the brandy snaps to be gluten free, replace the brown rice flour and tapioca flour with 100g of plain flour.
- 110g butter
- 110g brown sugar
- 110g golden syrup
- 50g brown rice flour
- 50g tapioca flour
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 egg yolks
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
- 200g mascarpone
- 400ml whipping cream
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius. Line baking trays with non stick baking paper (use as many trays as you have).
Heat the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring often, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Don't let it boil, and don't rush it, it will take about 10 minutes for the sugar to dissolve. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
While it's cooling, sift together the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, cinnamon and ginger into a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
Drop teaspoons full of the mixture onto the baking trays - four on each tray, spacing them well apart as they will spread, a lot! Place one tray at a time into the oven and bake for approximately 6 minutes, you want them to be bubbling all over and very slightly darkened at the edges.
While the snaps bake, prepare your moulds. If you're not using cannoli tubes then lightly grease the handle of a wooden spoon or similar. Ideally you will need four of whatever you are using. If it isn't non-stick, then lightly grease it. Place the moulds and an offset spatula within easy reach of where you will be rolling the snaps.
Take the tray of baked brandy snaps out of the oven, put the next tray in and re-set the timer. Slide the baked snaps, paper and all, off onto a heatproof surface and leave for 30 seconds. Use a spatula to gently lift the edge of one brandy snap, you need them to be just cool enough to lift off the paper but still be warm enough to be pliable. Flip the snaps over (so the bubbly side will be facing out) and quickly roll each one around your cannoli tube or spoon handle. Place them join side down onto a wire rack to cool. When they are cool enough to hold their shape, gently pull the former out. Try to slide the tubes out before the snaps have cooled completely, this lessens the risk of breaking. You may need to wipe some excess butter off the moulds before you re-use them (but don't wipe it all off, that way you won't need to re-grease them).
Continue baking the rest of the snaps. You can spoon more mixture onto the trays (re-lined with baking paper) when they are still hot from the oven - while the butter will start melting straight away, it doesn’t affect the snaps.
If you find the snaps have cooled too quickly and they're too firm to roll, place them back on the warm tray for a minute and try again. If they're still too firm, you can place the tray back in the oven for another minute to soften them.
To make the whipped cream, place the egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler (or use a heatproof bowl on top of a pot with 1" of gently simmering water) and stir with a whisk for 10 minutes, or until the sugar has mostly dissolved and the mixture is warm. Remove from the heat and beat with an electric mixer until pale in colour and the mixture forms thick ribbons when you lift the beaters. Beat in the vanilla extract and the mascarpone.
Whip the cream until stiff peaks are just beginning to form. Whip in the egg and mascarpone mixture until combined. The cream should hold peaks when you lift the beaters.
When the snaps are cool, use a piping bag fitted with a round or star nozzle to fill them. Insert the nozzle into one end of the tube, squeeze gently until you feel resistance on the nozzle, then fill the same way from the other end.
It's best to fill the brandy snaps just before you eat them, but unfilled snaps can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 - 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Mary Berry's brandy snap recipe
And if you happen to have any whipped cream leftover it happens to make the perfect dip for my favourite fruit, cherries…
That is Christmas for me, right there ^ .
Happy New Year everyone!